An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed one person and sickened 22 near Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California last year may have been caused by an unexpected source.
A health official testified today that a cooling tower that provides mist to make Disneyland visitors comfortable in hot weather was probably what caused 22 cases in a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in 2017 near the park.
Dr. Matthew Zahn with the Orange County Health Care Agency testified to this point on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, before an appeals board judge at the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
From the Associated Press:
Disneyland has denied it was the source, pointing to three infected people who had been in the city of Anaheim where Disneyland is located, but not at the park itself. One of them died.
Dr. Matthew Zahn of the Orange County Health Care Agency gave testimony Tuesday before an appeals board judge at the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating the case.
Zahn said tests around the time of the outbreak showed high levels of Legionella bacteria in two Disneyland cooling towers, which are part of an air conditioning system that releases mist, the Los Angeles Times reported. He said contaminated droplets likely spread to people in the park and beyond.
Disneyland is appealing state fines, saying the outbreak’s source was not scientifically determined.
Upon questioning, Zahn said he could not be 100 percent certain that Disneyland was the source without additional testing.
Legionnaire's disease is caused by bacteria that can grow in man-made water systems. People can develop pneumonia after breathing in contaminated vapor.